Feedback Request: A radical safety idea…

22 Jul

I am posting something I’ve been thinking about for a while and have discussed with a couple of my friends in hope of getting some feedback. If you read my blog, twitter, or facebook you are aware of my recent bullying situation. The entire affair has had a very detrimental effect on my mental health and caused me enormous stress. I noticed one of the worst things aout the situation for me was that I was unprepared for this happening and I had no control over it at all. I also still don’t know who is and isn’t comfortable with me in the classroom. Having considered this I came up with as idea and wondered if it seemed crazy.

I am thinking that from now on I will go to school in a completely out fashion. I am already out to whoever asks but I mean more in the wear my trans symbol necklace, have a trans pride sticker from Toronto pride on my book bag kind of out. Basically, I would be declaring to the world loudly and clearly that I am trans. I see this as an advantage in several ways. Firstly, I would immediately get an idea of who the allies and problem spots are in my classes. This allows me to mentally prepare and also to avoid the people I need to avoid. Secondly, it would give people a chance to ask me questions and to see a trans person as a real person. It would be a chance to educate and normalize being trans. Thirdly, it would allow me to become more comfortable with myself as a trans person and leave behind that baggage of shame. It would be me saying “I am trans do you have a problem with me? I don’t have a problem with me.”

There is the downside. I would be very open for mockery, abuse, and potentially violence. I would have to get used to the looks and the gossip because I know from past experience they happen. I know some people will also distance themselves from me who otherwise wouldn’t. Most worryingly, I would open myself up for discrimination and mistreatment from teachers and authorities which is a very difficult situation to handle.

Any thoughts or any extra things you think I should consider? Feel free to reply to the post or use my contact info for direct mail/twitter if you prefer.  I would really like some other peoples input as this would be a big step.


Things I want…

7 Jul

This post is dedicated to all the people who make me need to do a list like this: The Christian Right, Radfems, LGB who hate the T, Harry Benjamin trans folk, Transexxual seperatists, trans folk who think there is a “right” way to be trans, Mens Rights people, trans fanciers, the beauty industry, insensitive/sensationalistic journalists, pandering politicians, gatekeeping doctors, judgemental people, police, the legal system, and all the other haters and exploiters.

Here are the things I really badly want in life but will probably never have:

1.  To be viewed as a sexually desirable human being without it being because of a fetish.

2. To not be able to add 30 more groups to this list with just 2 minutes of thinking..

3. To not have to feel hate in my heart towards the above because hate makes me sick.

4. To be able to go 24 hours without fear or shame.

5. To have been able to adopt a child, because I had so much love to give and would have been a great Mom.

6. To go one week without seeing a story containing some outrage against my community

7. To not be called “brave” because being brave isn’t actually necessary for me to live.

8. To not have to just accept certain humiliations because there is nothing I can do about them.

9.  To not have to explain my motivations for being who I am inside.

10. To be able to see myself as beautiful.

11. To not have to decide whether to be out or to be safe.

12. And most of all: To be able to be happy, for an extended period of time without you people above and those like you taking it all away in one cruel heartbeat.

Just Because: My 10 Favorite Movies!

4 Jul

I grew up religeously listening to Casey Kasum’s Americna top 40 every weekend so I am sort of addicted to countdowns. Here is the first of what i’m sure will be something I do semi regularily. As is tradition we will start with number 10…

10. Magnolia (1999) Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

A few themes will reoccur in my list of films and this has a big one; forgiveness. Its a movie about a bunch of people who face lonileness, loss of dreams and despair. We see their pain and the way in which they connect with each other through this pain. Much is made about the start of the film and an event later which seem to be about randomness but it misses the point of the movie which is about connections and compassion for each other. William Macy is a particular stand out as a child quiz star who’s life has fallen apart since those younger days.

There is a humanity in Paul Thomas Anderson’s films that resounds deeply in me and this is one of his best. I highly recommend it and any of his other work.

9. High Fidelity (2000) Dir Stephen Frears

John Cusack may be my favorite actor. I will admit to having more than a small crush on him as well. This may be his strongest performance as a used record store owner who is recounting his past breakups and revisiting them. It is essentially a movie about growing up.  We can see th e ways in which Cusack is charming but also a jerk, through his self exploration he also begins to see he is a jerk and doesn’t like this about himself. He takes so much around him for granted and he comes to learn that there is more to everyone he knows and starts to grow up in the process. It is not all simple solutions but we see someone coming to grow as a person and it is both encouraging and highly entertaining to watch.  Don’t want to make it sound too somber because it also a very funny film with probably Jack Black’s funniest on screen moments.

8. A Very British Coup (1988)

This was originally a BBC mini series brought over to PBS as a movie. I am a bit of a political junkie and this one hooked me immediately. It is the story of a radical Labour MP who becomes Prime Minister. He has many dangerous ideas, nuclear disarmament, US bases off British soil, ethical investment and a host of ideas that upset the powers that be. He is subjected to a campaign by the intelligence agencies, media and civil service to drive him from power. He is aware this is coming and it becomes a very high stakes game for the future of the UK. Much political intrigue doesn’t resonate very true to me but this seemed plausable enough that I found it very gripping. Some of the actual incidents in the movie are now dated because of the politics of the time but I still think its very relevant, particularily the Rupert Murdoch news baron protrayed in the film.

7. Field of Dreams (1989) Dir Phil Alden Robinson

This movie combines several of my great passions, baseball, sentimentalism and forgiveness.  Most of you have probably heard of the movie but if you havent its about an Iowa corn farmer who hears voices telling him to build a baseball field in the middle of his farm. He follows this advice and begins an odyssey to find redemption and forgiveness for himself and others. It is an extremely sentamental movie and it was one I will always remember sharing with my father. If you can put aside being jaded for a moment and let the love and forgiveness just wash over you I guarentee you will find it worth the experience.

6. Citizen Kane (1941) Dir Orson Wells

Frequently referred to as the greatest movie of all time but I won’t enter into that debate. I do think it is a brilliant movie. Others have wrote about the new film techiniques and the brilliant acting and directing but I want to focus on the story. The story begins with the death of a famous newspaper magnet and aspiring politician Charles Foster Kane; and a newperson trying to tell his story by finding out the meaning of his last word “rosebud”. The newsman interviews the people in his life to understand Kane. It is fascinating to see a life story told from the people around a person instead of from the person himself. We see differant events told in differant lights based on the feelings of the person telling the tale. In between though we can get a very good picture of Kane himself, a man who was obsessed with a control that always eluded him. A very unhappy man who hurt many around him.

If you can get the version of this movie which includes the documentary “the Battle Over Citizen Cane” which documents attempts by William Randolph Heart to stop the movie (essentially based on him) from being made. It is a fascinating watch on its own and a great companion to the movie.

5. The Wizard of Oz (1939) Dir Victor Fleming

What can I say about this? Fantastic music, stunning visuals, vivid technocolor and a tale that enthralled me as a child. I have seen this movie approx. 75 times and it never bores me. I won’t try to go into deep meaning about why because its a part of me from childhood I will never lose but couldn’t easily explain.

4. Boogie Nights (1997) Dir Paul Thomas Anderson

My second Anderson film in my top ten is a story about a group of people working in the pornographic film industry of the 1970s. I very much considered making this movie higher on the list. It never judges the characters, it understands its characters, it even respects its characters. We learn about these people and we care about these people as it covers a decade or so of time. The music in the movie is perfect and the acting is superb. It is another extremely humanising movie from Mr Anderson and it ends on perhaps the best last line of any movie I have ever seen 🙂

3. Primary Colors (1998) Dir Mike Nichols

I was very worried when my friend draged me to see this movie. I assumed it was going to be an anti Bill Clinton attack from the right or at best a simple minded political expose. It was so much more than this. I have been a political activist since I was very young and even worked for a time as a paid employee of a canadian political party. This movie gets it right. Many people go into politics with the best of intentions, they want to change things for the better, and they want to make a differance. Unfortuantely for these people the system breaks them down, so many want power at any cost and are really good at convincing you to overlook or let slide the little things till you realize somewhere along the line you have lost everything you believe in. It is a movie about how you can, with good intentions and intelligence, still sell your principles by inches. It resonated deeply for me and it expresses better than I ever could how you can’t compromise important principles for the team or for the hope of better down the road or even for the lesser of evils. In the end nothing is ever accomplished.

2. Amadeus (1984) Dir Milos Forman

A movie about obsession set to the brilliant music and backdrop of Mozart’s Vienna. The story is told by rival of Mozart’s now in asylum having suffered a breakdown because he claims to have kill Mozart. He takes us through how someone’s love of something and urge to create could be lost in jealousy and obsession. Seeing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and recognizing his brilliance but viewing him as immature and uncaring about his work Sallieri sets out to destroy him for having a gift that no matter how much he wants it Sallieri can never have. The visuals are amazing and the acting is perhaps the best from top to bottom of a cast I have ever seen. Small moments and single words can make you wince and feel what each of these characters feel.

As a small note its hard to get to watch the original cut of the movie but if you can I recommend it. The directors cut adds footage that makes the character murky and detracts more than adds to the film. Even the directors cut is still an amazing film but I do think the original is better if you can find it.

1. Walt Dinsey’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Yes a Walt Diney version of a classic novel is my favorite film. Plese try to take this movie at face value and put aside your preconceptions of either disney or how this movie should be told because the movie stand very tall on its own merits. The music is stunning and epic; Alen Menken (an amazing composer) and Stephen Schwartz combine to give us songs that have deep meaning and touch on obsession, self doubt, poverty, prejudice and more. The movie takes on themes that are very adult for a disnet movie and has extremely dark images. One scene even has a major “religeous” figure singing about lust in one of the darkest scenes I have ever seen in a disney film. The animation is also absolutely first rate as one would expect of a disney movie of this period. The animators went to notre dame cathedral to make sure they got the visuals right and did a brilliant job. The voice work is top notch and conveys the depth of the characters and story. It has a minimum of the cutesy disney secens and even undermines the most typical of these types of scenes with some very dark humor. (Side note: Tom Hulce voices the hunchback and he played Mozart in Amadeus so he appears in my two favorite movies)

I really can’t recommend this enough. I was skeptical myself but I was hooked and enthralled within the first 5 minutes of the movie. I could watch it again and again for its visuals, its music and its depth of story.

Why I do what I do #1: Becoming a nurse

2 Jul

I would like to dedicate this post to Kate Donovan for inspiring it with a twitter conversation. You are an amazing person 🙂

I have been working very hard the last while to get into nursing school. I am sure I will update that on this blog when it comes through

A few people have asked me about why I want to be a nurse and I have given a variety of answers. There is a few standard buzz lines I have for the people who ask in passing. I want to help people. I find the medical profession very interesting. I have come to have a love of sciences and I thought this would be a chance to use them to earn a living. Nursing is a nearly guaranteed job if i’m willing to relocate.  Nursing is a profession where being trans is less of a barrier. All of these answers are to a varying degree true but its more than that to me.

Let me explain a couple experiences I have had. Shortly after I started transitioning I was out for my daily walk and I hurt my ankle very badly. By the next morning it was quite swollen and I needed to go into the emergency room to have it checked out. I was really self conscious walking in there, I was just starting to leave the house in woman’s clothing and the anxiety still made me feel like I wanted to puke. I was also not very convincing at this point. I had no concept of makeup and I hadn’t had laser yet so I had very clear “shadow”, I was also dressing in somewhat gender neutral but feminine leaning clothing because I was fearful of being laughed at, and I also was still very heavy (325 lbs) and had no breast forms. I had started hormones but they had no effects yet. After sitting in the waiting room for hours and feeling like I was being stared at by everyone I got called in for intake. The nurse asked me what the problem was, examined my ankle then proceeded to take my medical history. After asking about medications and me listing the hormones she asked me why I was taking those and I said that I was transgendered. Her reply?

“Well, you look nothing at all like a woman”

Experience number 2. I had surgery on my other ankle a couple years ago and it was fused and pins put in. Unfortunately the pin came loose and came out the side of my ankle so I had to go back in for some cleanup surgery.  My name change came in after the surgery appointment but before the surgery itself. I thought I had taken care of that at the pre surgery appointment but apparently not.  Everything went well getting signed in at the hospital, and getting brought into the surgery room, I was called ma’am and miss and even a very flattering young lady (i’m not either).  It came the moment where they needed me to sign the final consent for surgery and it had my male name on it. At that point the nurse looked at me with disgust, she started calling me sir, and him and Mr. It was humiliating. Fortunately my doctor came in to clear up the situation and called me Anna and used female pronouns.

These are very important examples of why I want to be a nurse. Having a health care professional treat you with respect and dignity no matter who you are or what your past is can be vital in making someone feel safe enough to access medical care. Trans people let illnesses fester, become ill, and can be dissuaded early in their transitions because of bullshit like this. It can KILL people. I want to be there to be a smiling face. Nurses are usually at the front line of care for a patient. I want to give love and acceptance and make people feel safe, trans or otherwise. Everyone deserves dignity.

Let me give you one more story that is close to my heart. It happened much earlier and will explain why nursing has been a goal for many many years. I was 19 years old and had gotten very ill with a mental illness. I had lost my school year and found myself admitted to a psychiatric ward for care. I felt hopeless, I felt ashamed, and I saw absolutely no future for myself. There was one nurse there named Becky. She talked to me and took time with me and her kindness and gentleness finally got me to admit to the gender issues I was facing. She didn’t laugh, didn’t frown, she didn’t judge in anyway. She asked me what would make me feel better. I said I wanted to shave my legs. It was one of the only things I felt safe doing that wouldn’t show at home with my parents. Sharps on a ward tend to be frowned upon especially since i was on suicide watch so she went and got permission, stayed past her shift outside my shower so I could shave my legs. She even provided tips which have proven very useful over the years. I never forgot her. I felt human and not like I was sick. She made such a difference in my life and she put herself out to do it.

That is what I want to do. I want to be a nurse. I want to make things better because I care. If I can make a difference for one person it will be worth it.

Thank you Becky, wherever you may be.

Late vs Early Transitions: the Dangers of Labels and Assumptions

22 Jun

Firstly a shout out to Erica for her post  that made me get off my butt and write this.

In nearly every trans space I spend any time at all a specific narrative seems to be tossed out and used to divide the crowd; late transition versus early transition.  It usually starts in the form of such and such believes this because they started late/started young and they just don’t understand what its like for us. People are then labelled as being in one group or the other. There is an assumption that everyone in one of these camps have similar experiences because of it. Its bad enough  that this is used to divide the community but even worse its serving to erase certain trans peoples experiences perhaps even most.

This is the stereoptype I have gotten both from people who self identify as one or the other and from people in the other “camp”:

Late Transitioners: Came out late in life. Tried to live for years as men often going into very masculine professions to cure their feelings and having families for the same reason. Denied who they were till very late. Tend to have very conservative views of gender roles. Tend to be bad at “passing”. Tend to be judgemental and urge caution to younger transitioners. Kept secrets for years. Always tend to wear dresses and skirts or very masculine clothing based on MTF/FTM. Seek out stereotypically feminine/masculine hobbies.

Early Transitioners: Came out young. Always pretty much knew what they were. Challenge assumptions about gender roles. Out and living as themselves from a very young age. Fit in as chosen gender role better. Tend to be impatient in dealing with others around their gender issues. Judgemental of older trans people. Insensitive to barriers for older people who could not transition.

What is even worse is that both groups come to believe this whole story as the truth of the transition expereince. They even tend to gloss over aspects of their own lives that dont fit as if they never even happened. They get very antagonistic when you challenge the fact that there are experiences that dont fit with this simple framework.

What happens to people who don’t fit this narrative?  Well in my case I get ignored and belittled by both sides. Older transitioners will tell me that I got to see life from both sides of the coin. That I can appreciate my male experiences and female experiences. It makes me want to scream. I never for a single moment felt male. I ALWAYS knew exaclty what I was.  They will also assume I want to live out a certain standard of feminity. I have been told that I can be myself and wear skirts and dresses if I want…I dont wear skirts and dresses because I find pants and shorts more comfortable and practical most of the time. I am not denying myself. This is me.  Also, I didnt keep secrets, many people clearly knew, I just wasnt allowed to say anything. No guilt here on that count.

Younger tranistioners? They treat me like I am a failure. Why didnt I just transition? Why did I keep secrets? As I said above I had no choice at all. It was secrets my life was just denied me. It was more like a prison sentence than a choice. They also treat me like a threat. Like I am an embarressing conservative barrier to their future. I support them, I am just trying to live my own life and would never claim to know whats right for them. Unfortunately they still other me. As if I dont feel enough rejection in the non trans world.

My history is non standard. I came out really really young but was stopped from transitioning. Same thing happened later. I didnt try to marry, didnt try to push away who I was because I knew I couldnt. I did eventually get to place where I could transition. Does that make me late or early? Does it matter? I am Anna not a label. My experiences are not the same as yours. I still want support I still want community.

I think nearly all of us don’t fit any kind of dominant idea of transness. We experienced out lives differantly, it erases our pasts, our family life, our disabilities, our colour, our ethnicity, our place of birth, our date of birth, our education or lack thereof, our poverty or wealth. We are not a single narrative. We never will be. But we do need each other. Stop dividing, stop making assumptions, learn about each other and show support.

Society already divides us, alienates us. We shouldn’t be doing the same

(Thanks also to WilloNyx for the proofing/editing)

Bill C-279

5 Jun

The trans rights bill federally in Canada is up for a vote tommorow. The bill may be a close vote, New Democrats, Liberals and the green party are in support and even some conservatives are supporting it.

What can you do?

Call your local conservative MPs. Tell them to support the bill. Even a few changing to yes would maybe get trans people long deserved federal protections. Activism can work, we are on the edge of trans human rights protections in Ontario. We can do it federally.

Make that call! If you aren’t Canadian tell your Candian friends to make that call. Let’s make this happen!

Me and the Panther

3 Jun

Just a picture of me and my pink panther and a few of my other friends. The happy child before. Those are Charlie’s Angels and superhero stickers on the headboard.

After my post I went back and found this old photo to share.